Mis Raices...

Sandanistas and Gang Warfare

Even Gangsters Need Their Mamas
By Tim Rogers

With his cap visor pulled low over his face, Jalson Espinoza watches a group of gang members from a rival neighborhood push through a massive throng of Sandinista supporters gathered to hear President Daniel Ortega speak. To the outside observer, many of the other young men in the crowd looked just as tough and menacing, dressed in bandanas and going shirtless to show off their tattoos. But very few of them are true gangbangers, Espinoza says. "You can tell who the real vagos are by the way they walk," he says in a raspy voice, using the Nicaraguan term for gangsters.

Espinoza should know. At 26, his street resume makes America's most notorious gangsta rappers look pampered by comparison. In a decade of gang life, Espinoza has been jailed 14 times, shot twice, had his jaw broken with a machete, and lost an eye to a rock fired from a slingshot.

But the thug life is a thing of the past, Espinoza says. He has traded in his gang colors for the red and black of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, for which he works as a youth organizer in a rough neighborhood in Ciudad Sandino.

In Nicaragua, a movement that started off channeling youth rebellion into the violent overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 is once again the governing party. And in many poor neighborhoods, the Sandinista Front has more street cred than the local youth gang.
Under the leadership of the National Police, an agency created by the revolutionary government of the 1980s, the Sandinistas are using their status on the street to win the war on the gang problem that has plagued much of Central America. But it's a war they're waging without violence.

Rather than adopting the disastrous heavy-handed anti-gang polices of neighboring Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, which have actually led to an escalation of violence and repression, the Nicaraguan police several years ago launched an intervention program aimed at engaging young men to turn them away from gang life. Since the program began in 2003, police claim that gang membership has declined dramatically. According to official statistics, 42 gangs have been demobilized and almost 4,000 of their members have been reintegrated into society. Of the 62 gangs that existed here four years ago, only 20 remain, with a total of 363 still-active gang members. Those are impressive figures in a Central American region where total gang membership is estimated at around 69,000.

"We don't need more jails or laws in Nicaragua, we need more opportunities for young people," says Commissioner Hamyn Gurdiᮬ head of the police effort to demobilize gangs. Gurdiᮠ— who during the 1970s, at age 16, had gone into the mountains to join the Sandinista rebels — says that guerrilla experience, shared by many police officers, helps them to empathize with gang members and identify personally with the three-step demobilization process: cease-fire, disarmament and social reintegration. "That experience made us sensitive to their problems," he said. "Their life, the lack of opportunities they have, that is what it was like for us, only instead of fighting with assault rifles, they throw rocks."

The Sandinista government's message of peace and reconciliation, and its populist dedication to economic empowerment of the poor, appears to be resonating on the streets. "For young people, the last 16 years have been lost to governments that didn't give us any opportunities," Espinoza says, repeating President Daniel Ortega's line about the three conservative administrations that ruled before his return to power this year. "Maybe [Ortega] will give us new opportunities and jobs."

Old-fashioned Nicaraguan nationalism may also have helped keep the gang culture at bay, since the major transnational gangs that terrorize Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras — the Mara Salvatrucha and the M-18 — are essentially foreign, originating in Los Angeles. Mauricio Bustamante, 19, spent three years living in Guatemala spying on M-18 for the Salvatrucha before returning to Nicaragua and getting involved in his old local gang, the Cumbas. He says that Nicaraguan gangs have rejected the culture of the Salvatrucha and M-18 in keeping with the Nicaraguan spirit of resistance to foreign intervention.

The strongest pillar of support for the anti-gang efforts of the National Police, however, comes from within the community. Many gang members still live with their mothers and grandmothers, who can play a key role in the demobilization and reintegration process, Gurdiᮠsays. "My mother told me she wanted nothing to do with me after the fourth time I got arrested," says Espinoza. "But once she saw that I was trying to get out of the gang, she immediately started to support me again."

The police are helped by the fact that under the scars and tattoos, even the toughest vago is still a mama's boy at heart.


Original Women in Latin America

LATIN AMERICA: Indigenous, Black Women Face ‘Triple Glass Ceiling’

"QUITO, Aug 9 (IPS) - Indigenous and black women in Latin America and the Caribbean face three-fold discrimination because of their gender, race and social class, in politics and at work.

"That is how it was put by participants in a panel on "Citizenship and Political Participation by Indigenous and Afro-Descendant Women" at the 10th Regional Conference on Women that ended Thursday in the Ecuadorean capital. Guatemalan indigenous activist Otilia Lux de Cotí said that from the indigenous women’s point of view, the struggle for women’s right to participate is inextricably linked to the struggle for indigenous peoples’ right to participate. We are discriminated against by governments, by men, and often by other women, so in order to correct historical inequalities, we must restructure the state and build an egalitarian society, said de Cotí, formerly Guatemalan minister of culture and sports.

Therefore, when demanding minimum quotas for women’s participation, quotas for indigenous and Afro-descendant women should also be specified, she said.


Inside every mestizo there is either one dead Indian, or an Indian waiting to re-emerge” -Jose Barreiro

"Latino Boycott"

Latinos Launch Economic Boycott: Resolution Leads Many to Shop Outside County
By Pamela Constable

Washington Post Staff Writer

Maria Rivera, a hotel maid from Woodbridge, drove her two daughters to Lorton last weekend to buy school supplies. Juan Padilla, who owns a tropical-themed restaurant in Manassas, purchased all his cooking ingredients yesterday in Fairfax County.

On the first day of a one-week boycott called by immigrant groups in Prince William County, both of these county residents said they were shopping elsewhere to send a message that Latino immigrants are an important, unified economic force and can't be intimidated.

"They used us Hispanics to build this county, and now they are trying to kick us out. It's not fair," fumed Padilla, 28, a legal immigrant from El Salvador. On the window of his restaurant, La Laguna, was a large green poster that read, "We Are A Pro-Immigrant Business. Rescind the Prince William County Anti-Immigrant Resolution."

The boycott is a protest against a resolution, passed unanimously by the Board of County Supervisors in July, to deny many public services to illegal immigrants and empower police and other officials to question immigrants about their legal status and in some cases turn them over to federal immigration authorities.

County officials are studying how to implement the resolution, the result of widespread concern among longtime residents who think that the rapid influx of Latino immigrants, including many who are illegal, has increased crime and blight in the area and created a heavy burden on public services.

Several activists who support the resolution said that the boycott is bound to fail and that its only effect would be to pressure Latino business owners into conformity with a radical agenda by some groups to push the rights of illegal immigrants.

"They don't have a prayer of reversing this resolution, which has the support of 80 percent of county residents," said Greg Letiecq, an activist who heads Help Save Manassas. "This is an attempt to bully immigrant businesses."

Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) also said the boycott would have little impact.

"I think it's going to have no effect whatsoever," he said. "It just strengthens our resolve and reaffirms that we're doing the right thing," he said. "And it confirms that illegal immigrants and their support groups have no respect for our community or the rule of law. It's just going to inflame people and make people that much more upset with illegal immigration."

The boycott has both galvanized and divided the county's large Latino population, which has tripled in the past decade and is now estimated at 30,000. One group, Mexicans Without Borders, hopes economic pressure will stop the measure. Another, headed by several Latino businessmen, opposes the boycott and seeks peaceful negotiations with county leaders.

There was no way to determine yesterday how many immigrants had observed the opening day of the boycott, which targeted all non-immigrant-owned businesses, including such chains as Wal-Mart, McDonald's and Giant supermarket as well as gas stations and convenience stores.

Boycott organizers said they had placed more than 350 of the green posters in businesses throughout the county, signifying that the store managers or owners are sympathetic -- or at least do not want to lose their immigrant customers.

A demonstration at Potomac Mills shopping center drew fewer than 100 people, who stood under a broiling afternoon sun yesterday and held aloft placards calling for immigrant rights. Some passing drivers honked in support; others swore or made insulting gestures.

In interviews in Manassas and Woodbridge, several dozen Latinos said they supported the boycott, and some were indignant about the way they feel immigrants have been treated in the county. Only two or three said they did not know about the boycott.

"I am only buying in Hispanic stores this week. I am a resident now, but I am still an immigrant, and it is not good what they are trying to do," said Abel Santiago, 28, a Mexican restaurant worker who complained that he had been stopped and asked for identification recently. "We feel so much hate and resentment now. But we should have our rights, too."

Rivera, the hotel worker who attended the demonstration at Potomac Mills, said she was also a legal resident but was angry at the proposals aimed at driving out illegal immigrants. She said she decided to participate after hearing about the boycott through her church.

"They don't want our children in the schools. They don't want people renting to immigrants. They want to ask for families' ID cards in parks. This is wrong, and we do not accept it," she said.



Arturo Schomburg, Jan. 24 1874- June 8 1938, famous historian and considered the "Father of Black history." Arturo was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and later travelling to Harlem, NY, April 17, 1891. The 'Schomburg Center' in New York is name after this famous Afro-Boricua and features numerous works and research on African-American and Puerto Rican studies.

Who is a Latino? (by Ruth Kunstadter - July 2007)

L.A. Law actress Michele Greene.

Supermodel Christy Turlington.

Wonder Woman Lynda Carter.

Baseball legend Ted Williams.

New Mexico Governor – and presidential candidate – Bill Richardson.

What do these individuals have in common?Their American-sounding last names – and their Latino cultural heritage.

I call them "Latinos incognitos," because at first glance, they might not easily be recognized as Hispanic. With Anglo fathers and Latina mothers, the institution of marriage automatically hid the Latino heritage of all these individuals – at least on paper.

As a result, they certainly don't "sound" Latino. They may not even "look" Latino, either. So are they really Latinos?

Because of his name and his part-Anglo heritage, Bill Richardson has been accused of being "not Latino enough." But at the same time, he is also accused of being "too Latino," trying to leverage his Hispanic heritage for political gain.

The reality, of course, is that Bill Richardson is Latino, and he is Anglo. The two cultures are not mutually exclusive – although they are often treated as such. When was the last time you saw a box for "multicultural" on any official form? Our society does not easily accept the middle ground between two heritages.

On official forms, as in life, bicultural Latinos are pressured to choose. And inevitably, they will receive criticism for their choices. Kevin Johnson (another Latino incognito), in his memoir, How Did You Get to Be Mexican?, recalls being accused in college of "checking the box" as a Latino to get preferential treatment, but not being "Latino enough" to back it up with political activism.

Even Latinos with two Latino parents can have their Latinidad challenged. A dear friend of mine, who proudly describes herself as Puerto Rican, was often made to feel less so by her native Puerto Rican peers in New Jersey, because she wasn't "born on the island." Another friend who doesn't "look" Latina recalls that the only way she could convince her Hispanic classmates that she was indeed Latina was to tell them she watched Walter Mercado's horoscopes with her grandmother.

But who is a Latino, anyway?

Is it someone who is born in this country, a descendant of the original Spanish settlers?

Is a Latino someone whose family immigrated from a Spanish-speaking country and created a home here?

Can you be a Latino without a Hispanic name?

Without speaking Spanish?

Without a direct connection to your heritage?

What makes someone a Latino?

It's certainly not just the name, despite the U.S. Census' original method of counting Latinos by using the category "Hispanic surname." Where does that leave Governor Bill Richardson or Michele Greene (who, as a bilingual singer/songwriter, recently released her second CD in both English and Spanish)?

Language helps – but you don't even have to speak Spanish to be a Latino (and a growing number of Latinos don't). The reverse, however, can be true – you can start to feel Latino just by speaking Spanish. There is something in the sound of the language, the words themselves, that bring Latinidad to those who choose to celebrate its beauty, its richness, and its innate poetry.

Those who learn Spanish in order to bark orders at employees or simply to fulfill a foreign language requirement are not likely to feel it, though. Here, intention is everything.Being a Latino is more than just a language or a last name, or even what country you came from or can trace your roots to.

Being a Latino is about a feeling, an attitude, a connection to life and culture and family and music, and a desire to experience it all to its fullest.Being a Latino means living life with sabor, and taking the time to appreciate and enjoy everything – and everyone – that makes life worth living.
And we can all use a little bit of that Latinidad.


The Bible: One of the Great Weapons Used Against Us

"When the white man first came to this land, we had the land and they had the bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them again, we had the bible and the white man had the land."- unknown

Brazil and the Killing Off of Our Future

BRAZIL: Controversial Bill to Sterilise Younger Women

By Fabiana Frayssinet

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 22 (IPS) - A draft law to reduce the minimum age for women to undergo voluntary sterilisation in Brazil’s public hospitals from 25 to 18 is vigorously opposed by the government.

A Brazilian Republican Party senator and bishop of an evangelical sect, the Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus (Universal Church of the Kingdom of God), Marcelo Crivella, who introduced the draft law in the Senate, said it would help reduce violence, because "children who would be hungry and abandoned wouldn’t be born" -- factors that he argues are related to crime.

The current law regulating family planning states that voluntary sterilisation is only permitted for men and women who are over 25 years of age and have at least two living children.

The Health Ministry is against the draft law. Several family planning options are available in the public health services, including sterilisation of women by tying off the Fallopian tubes, an operation which prevents eggs from reaching the uterus from the ovaries, thus preventing fertilisation.

In an interview for the government broadcaster Agência Brasil, Health Minister José Gomes said he was "radically against" reducing the age for voluntary sterilisation, "because that’s not family planning, it’s fertility control," a phase he considers to be a thing of the past in this country of over 188 million people.

Regina Viola, coordinator of the Technical Area of Women’s Health at the Health Ministry, told IPS that tubal ligation "is considered to be an irreversible contraceptive method, since if a woman later changes her mind, the surgery cannot always be reversed."

Studies by the ministry indicate that "between two and 13 percent of women change their minds, depending on their age and the circumstances surrounding the tubal ligation. Among women under 30 at the time of the operation, most change their minds," she said.

Elizabeth Ferraz, coordinator of the research department of the non-governmental organisation BEMFAM, told IPS that the latest study of national demographic and health data, carried out in 1996, showed that 77 percent of women who were married or in a stable relationship used some method of contraception, and 40 percent of them had been sterilised between the ages of 15 and 49.

The study was undertaken by BEMFAM, which works on sexual and reproductive health issues in 13 Brazilian states.

The average age of the women at the time they were sterilised was 28.9 years, but 20 percent of them were under 25. Thirty-seven percent were aged 25 to 29, 28 percent were aged 30 to 34, 12 percent were aged 35 to 39, and three percent were aged 40 to 44.

According to Ferraz, the contraceptive methods used vary according to the women’s age and circumstances. For instance, many women at the height of their fertility use contraceptive pills to space their births, and when they consider they have the ideal number of children, they choose to be sterilised.

Furthermore, the more education a woman has, the wider the variety of family planning methods used, and the more frequently their partners have had a vasectomy (male sterilisation), the expert said.

While Ferraz considers sterilisation of women to be neither good nor bad in itself, but simply another choice available to women, she is concerned about the proposal to reduce the minimum age.

"This proposal is rather radical. We could do more through public policies, like giving the public more information about the variety of methods, and spend money on awareness-raising campaigns so that women can exercise birth control without resorting to a drastic measure like getting their tubes tied at the beginning of their sexual life. Different methods are suited to different stages in life," she said.

Ferraz pointed out that sterilised women often change their minds when they begin a new relationship, or if one of their children dies.

In the poorest areas of the country, indices of female sterilisation are higher than the national average: 43.9 percent in the northwest, and 59.5 percent in the centre-west. "Sometimes, access to other methods is difficult, and in the absence of other options, women opt for sterilisation," Ferraz pointed out.

In the context of poor populations with limited access to healthcare and education, "sterilisation is often a vote-catcher," said Ferraz. In doubt as to the effectiveness of other methods, such as condoms, pills or intrauterine devices, many women who have little money or education choose to be sterilised, thinking "they won’t have to worry any more."

A question which should be cleared up by a census on family planning that is being carried out by the Health Ministry is "to find out whether in Brazil, where the rate of caesarean deliveries is very high, caesarean sections encourage sterilisations, or whether sterilisation encourages caesareans," Ferraz said.

According to the 1996 study by BEMFAM, out of the total number of sterilised women, 59 percent had their tubes tied during a caesarean delivery, while only 15 percent had the sterilisation operation done after a normal birth.

The Health Ministry’s Viola also said she thought that information about the methods available, where to obtain them and how to use them, should undergird any reproductive health campaign.

The new National Policy on Family Planning, launched by the Health Ministry in late May, provides, among other actions, for a publicity campaign to offer clear information and stimulate family planning, and mass distribution of educational material about contraceptive methods to schools and community centres.

It also plans to expand the supply of contraceptives to basic health clinics from 20 million to 50 million blister packs of pills, and to encourage vasectomy operations in public hospitals. Brazil’s fertility rate began to decline in the late 1960s.

According to Ferraz, in 1960 the fertility rate stood at an average of six children per woman, but by 1996, the date of the last family planning census, it had fallen to 2.3 children per woman, and in some urban centres like Rio de Janeiro, it was even lower, at 1.9.

The expert cited economic reasons for the decline in fertility, such as migration from rural areas to the cities, and women’s entry into the labour market. Today, barely 20 percent of Brazilians live in rural areas, where there is less access to information. (END/2007)


The Sterilization of Latin and Indigenous Women

- Much respect goes to the "Friends of Peltier" for the following blog, which I have reposted:

Latina and Indigenous Women & Children at Risk:The Forced Sterilization of Latina and Indigenous Women and Youth in Canada, the United States and Across Latin America

An Overview
The intentional use of non-consensual sexual sterilization has been a tool for controlling indigenous and Latin American women for many decades. Many of these violations of a woman or girl's right to self- determination are only coming to light now.

Within Latin America, Peru and Mexico are examples of countries where sterilization targeting indigenous women and youth has continued to be used in recent years. Mexico continues this practice today. Sterilization is often accompanied by threats from medical doctors just before childbirth. These doctors lie about the irreversibility of the procedure, or they psychologically force vulnerable female patients to permanently give up their life-long right to have children.
Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth, has the highest percentage of sterilized women in the entire world.

The racist anti-Latina and anti-indigenous nature of such forced sterilization is more than obvious.
Forced Sterilization in the Americas
An overview of the effects of forced sterilization policies across the Americas
Between 1965-71, an estimated 1 million women in Brazil had been sterilized [45]. In Puerto Rico, 34% of all women of child-bearing age had been sterilized by 1965 [46]. Between 1963-65, more than 40,000 women in Colombia had been sterilized [47]...
"Lee Brightman, United Native Americans President, estimates that of the Native population of 800,000 (in the US), as many as 42% of the women of childbearing age and 10% of the men...have been sterilized... The first official inquiry into the sterilization of Native women...by Dr. Connie Uri...reported that 25,000 Indian women had been permanently sterilized within Indian Health Services facilities alone through 1975...
"According to a 1970 fertilization study, 20% of married Black women had been sterilized, almost three times the percentage of white married women. There was a 180% rise in the number of sterilizations performed during 1972-73 in New York City municipal hospitals which serve predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhoods" [48].
Similar results were found in Inuit communities in the Northwest Territories. Clearly, "overpopulation" is not an issue in North America, nor is it in South or Central America.
In 1928 Alberta passed legislation allowing school officials to forcibly sterilize Native girls; British Columbia followed suit in 1933. There is no accurate toll of forced sterilizations because hospital staff destroyed records in 1995 after police launched an investigation. But according to the testimony of a nurse in Alberta, doctors sterilized entire groups of Native children when they reached puberty.
The United States
"In the 1970s, it is estimated that 30% of all Puerto Rican women, and 25-40% of American Indian women were sterilized without their informed consent - American Friends Service Committee [This was done by the U.S. Indian Health Service and other agencies.]
Indigenous Women within the United States
(1977) A... Government Accounting Office (GAO) study commissioned by Senator James Abourezk of South Dakota, discovered that more than 3400 Native American women of childbearing age had been sterilized over a three year period in four different Indian Health Service areas in the Southwest.21 This figure is particularly frightening given the declining population of Native Americans--today there are fewer than 800,000 in this country. It would be comparable to sterilizing 452,000 non-white women in the U.S. The study also found that many of the consent forms to be illegal and not in compliance with Indian Health Service regulations. It also found that 36 women under the age of 21 and been sterilized, despite the court ordered moratorium on such sterilizations.
Latina women in the United States
Luz Alvarez Martinez, co-founder of the National Latina Health Organization, says that sterilization abuse is also a major problem for Latinas. She points out that government funding is scarce for abortions but plentiful for sterilization and that, "We are not given adequate information so that we can give truly `informed consent' for medical procedures that affect our reproductive choices." She cites the case of Chicanas sterilized without their knowledge in Los Angeles county, and the fact that in New York Latinas have a sterilization rate seven times higher than white women and almost twice that of Black women. From: "Organizing Women
Puerto Rico
About the history of forced sterilization in Puerto Rico. ...Dr. Helen Rodriguez-Trias states that population control was indeed a social policy in [Puerto Rico] that targeted a group that was believed "shouldn’t have children" by other groups (Garcia 1985). According to one interview, each and every female in one extended family had been sterilized. The elder woman wept, saying that the family would end with no more women able to have children (Garcia 1985).
Indigenous Women in Bolivia
Le Sang du Condor (Blood of the Condor)(1994, 80 min.) (Video F 2230. 2. K4 S26) In Spanish and Quechua with French subtitles.
A dramatization of an actual incident which involved charges of sterilization of Quechuan Indian women without their consent as part of a birth control program administered by the United States Peace Corps.
Indigenous Women in Brazil
At least eighty indigenous women of the Pataxuh-he band in the Brazilian state of Bahia have been sterilized by Ronald Lavigne, who is a medical doctor as well as a politician. Lavigne offers sterilization to women (who cannot get other types of birth control) every time he runs for office. Some women have complained after the fact that the finality of tube-tying was not explained to them. Lamb reports that many of the operations were undertaken on women desperate to reduce the size of their families because many children in the area die of malnutrition. "This is genocide," Lamb reported Roberto Liebgott, an activist with native peoples in Bahia, to have said. In some villages, every woman of child-bearing age has been sterilized, leading to the probable demise of entire peoples in a generation or two.
Indigenous Women in Mexico
...These cases from [the Mexican state of] Guerrero come amid increasing allegations of a pattern of abuse across Mexico. Human rights groups cite evidence that uni-lingual [non-Spanish-speaking] Indians are being targeted by government sterilization brigades in several states.
Recent reports include women given tubal ligations without their knowledge following Caesarean sections; women being paid with a kilo of beans or tomatoes for sterilization procedures they don't nderstand; and a woman who couldn't conceive because an IUD (intrauterine device) had been implanted in her womb without her knowledge and was embedded in her flesh.
Certainly there is a push to sterilize people in Guerrero, where one-seventh of the state's 3,000,000 people is pure Indian...
More on Indigenous Women in Mexico
...In Omaha, Nebraska, medical personnel at local clinics caring for an influx of Mexican and other Latin American immigrants say that many women come to them complaining of having trouble getting pregnant. The Omaha care-givers are left to tell the women, many of whom are of Mexican Indian ancestry, that they have been sterilized or implanted with IUDs by Mexican doctors. Most of the women express surprise at this, to put it mildly, indicating that any form of consent they may have been given was not comprehended.Peru
July, 2002 - Peru's Government Apologizes for the forced sterilization of 200,000 Indigenous Women in the late 1990's. A number of public health doctors in Peru (who perform sterilizations of indigenous women) also engaged in sexual assaults on their patients before charges against the Peruvian state were brought to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.
Silence and Complicity - Indigenous and other poor women and girls in Peru face rape and other abuses from Peru's public health service doctors.
Victory For Women In Peru - Peru settles the case of Marina Machaca before action by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. Marina Machaca, a 19-year old [indigenous] girl, was raped by Doctor Gerardo Salmón Horna, a doctor with the public hospital Carlos Monge Medrano in Juliaca, Peru...

Arise O Ye America Latina

Reposted from www.zmag.org-

Democracy Rising: Grassroots movements change the face of power
by Nadia Martinez; Yes! Magazine

As the people of Latin America build democracies from the bottom up, the symbols of power are changing. What used to be emblems of poverty and oppression-indigenous clothing and speech, the labels "campesino" and "landless worker"-are increasingly the symbols of new power. As people-powered movements drive the region toward social justice and equality, these symbols speak, not of elite authority limited to a few, but of power broadly shared.
The symbolism was especially rich last year in Cochabamba, Bolivia, when the new minister of justice made her entrance at an international activists’ summit. Casimira Rodríguez, a former domestic worker, wore the thick, black braids and pollera, a long, multilayered skirt, of an Aymara indigenous woman. As she made her way through the throng, Rodríguez further distinguished herself from a typical law-enforcement chief by passing out handfuls of coca leaves.
Throughout the region, marginalized people are rising up, challenging the system that has kept them poor, and pursuing a new course. In country after country, people are selecting leaders who strongly reject the Washington-led "neoliberal" policies of restricted government spending on social programs, privatization of public services such as education and water, and opening up borders to foreign corporations.

Of course, there are exceptions, most notably Mexico, where conservative Felipe Calderón claimed power after a bruising battle over disputed election results. But the growing backlash has driven old-guard presidents out of power in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Bolivia. And, while there are sharp differences among the new leaders, there is no question that what put all of them in power was a growing outcry against economic injustice. Over 40 percent of the region still lives in poverty, and the gap between rich and poor is the widest in the world.

No longer willing to accept perpetual poverty, Latin America’s poor are redefining their societies and, in the process, redefining democracy....
- Read the rest of the article at http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=1730


Representando!: Revolution, Politics and Hip Hop

Political hip-hop at SOB's

Today's hip hop is not all about bling and gangsta life - and an international coalition of Puerto Rican, Chilean, Mexican and African-American artists is getting ready to prove it.
Springing from a variety of U.S. and Latin American cities, the performers at this Sunday's Grita/Say Something show at SOB's (www.sobs.com) share similar concerns, reflected not only in their combative lyrics but also in their community activism.

The lineup features BocaFloja, a rapper from Mexico City; Intifada, a duo from San Juan; Rebel Diaz, a trio out of Chicago with Latin roots, and the Boston-born emcees Foundation Movement.
"Social and economic inequality, also racial and political issues," says BocaFloja (literally Loose Mouth), describing his lyrics.

Born Aldo Villegas, the 29-year-old BocaFloja started rapping in 1997, becoming part of the founding generation of Mexico City's hip-hop scene.

"I also try to go back to storytelling, which has been lost in rap," he says. "We're like social communicators, that's the function for which I use music."

At the same time BocaFloja was getting started, would-be emcee Luis Díaz met DJ Yalzee at the Universidad Interamericana in San Juan. They created a group that evolved into today's Intifada.

"I speak about political issues, social concerns, anti-imperialist causes, the independence of Puerto Rico, class struggle," says Díaz, 32, who by day is a high school teacher. "I believe in the equitable distribution of wealth."

The project's name, adds Díaz, is a reflection of Puerto Ricans being in a "similar situation" to Palestinians. "There's someone who dominates us and threatens our existence as a people," he says.

Rebel Díaz was formed in Chicago by brothers RodStarz and G1 (Rodrigo Venegas, 26, and Gonzalo, 22, sons of Chilean exiles) and Lah Tere (Teresita Ayala, 22, the daughter of Puerto Ricans.)

"We are the children of rebelliousness, which was our parents' experience," says Rodrigo Venegas.

The group recently moved to the South Bronx to continue their community activism through hip hop.

"We live here because it's where there's the biggest need for political work," Venegas says.
Also recently arrived in New York are Bostonites Eroc (Ernesto Arroyo) and Optimus (Banjineh Brown) of the Foundation Movement. They have performed in Kenya, Tanzania, the Palestinian territories, and Cuba.

"The way I would describe it is life music, it's things representative of our life," says Brown, who prefers not to reveal his age.

"It might be love, it might be community building, it might be having fun, it might be social injustice, it might be guerrilla warfare or the political system."


The Pyramids of Peru

(pictured is the Huallamarca pyramid in Peru)

Paz! For those of us who may not have been aware, Egypt and the Mayans and Mexica where not the only Original people to built pyramids. Actually pyramids are found throughout the Americas (North and South) and through Asia. On Wednesday, National Geographic aired a program called “The Hidden Pyramids of Peru” which talks about the over 26 pyramids that were built prior to the rise of the “Inca” civilization. Infact, the cities who produced some of these pyramids were created when the Pyramids in Egypt were just being built. There is always the speculation from Afro-centrists’ that since humanity was conceived in Africa and spread out from there, everything else came out of Africa, thereby regulating other civilization’s advancement and development to their interaction with Africans. While our African brothers and sisters did contribute much to the Pre-Columbian cultures of the Americas, civilization did not and does not stem solely from their hands. The Original people are all people of color, who in my opinion, developed independently in many respects, however, share so many similarities with other Original/Indigenous cultures due to that fact that we are the Original people and therefore origin from the same, universal consciousness. There are pyramids in Mexico, Guatemala, Ohio, Illinois, Japan, China, Sudan, Brazil, Bolivia and Australia. Not to take away from my European brothers and sisters in the human family, b-u-t there weren’t any pyramids built in Europe. The closest would be those built in the Canary Islands and those in Greece (which were built prior to those in Egypt as well, however it is documented that Greece and Crete were Kemetian colonies prior to the organization and rise of the Greek state. Below is an article that discusses the pyramids in Peru, a link to see more pictures and information about them, and a link for a National Geographic article about a mummy of a women found in one of the pyramids.

This is a very important of our history. Do the knowledge…

By Mark Henderson, The Times

AN ADVANCED civilisation was thriving on the coast of modern-day Peru at the same time as the pyramids were built in Egypt – more than 1,000 years earlier than was previously thought, American researchers have discovered.

New radio-carbon dating of plant fibres found at Caral, 120 miles north of Lima, has revealed that the ancient city was built as early as 2600BC, making it by far the oldest urban settlement yet identified in the Americas.

The findings, published today in the journal Science, suggest that the significance of the Caral civilisation has been badly underestimated by archaeologists and anthropologists.
The inhabitants of the city had developed technology on a par with much of that found in ancient Egypt at about the same time they had the know-how to irrigate fields and to build monumental pyramids, though they never learnt to make ceramic pottery, a fact that continues to puzzle anthropologists. Jonathan Haas, curator of anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago, who led the study, said Caral had previously been dated to about 1600BC. “Our findings show that a very large, complex society had risen on the coast of Peru centuries earlier than anyone thought, “ Dr Haas said.

“This is a project that comes along once in a generation and offers opportunities rarely glimpsed in the field of archaeology.”

Caral is dominated by a central zone containing six large platform mounds arranged around a huge public plaza. The largest of these mounds, known as Piramide Mayor, stands 60ft high and measures 450ft by 500ft at its base.

All six central mounds were built in only one or two phases, providing strong evidence of complex planning, centralised decision-making and mobilisation of a large labour force- all of which suggest an advanced civilisation.

Stairs, rooms, courtyards and other structures were constructed on top of the pyramids as well as on the side terraces.

Excavations are now planned to determine whether there were rooms or tombs inside the mounds. Other architecture at the site also indicates a high level of cultural complexity. In particular, three sunken circular plazas testify to the emergence of a well-organised religion with open, public ceremonies. Other villages in Peru are known to have been occupied before 2600BC and some even had small-scale public platforms or stone rings. All, however, are much smaller in scale.

- Article found at http://www.goldenageproject.org.uk/56peru.html

Proper Education Always Corrects Errors


Boriken's Anti-Military Stance

Puerto Ricans against Military Recruitment in Schools

San Juan, Aug 7 (Prensa Latina) Sectors from the Puerto Rican society will start a campaign next week against military recruitment in schools to enter the US Army, said activists from the Independentista Party of Puerto Rico (PIP) Monday.

PIP militants will visit higher education centers to talk to the students and teachers about their right to demand from the Puerto Rican Education Minister their personal data should not be given to recruitment officials.

US authorities use that information to persuade the students to join the US Army.
Recent polls show that Latinos have a greater rate of dead people in Iraq than other sectors of the US population.

Edwin Irizarry Mora, candidate to Governor for PIP, said that 74 Puerto Ricans have died in Iraq.

"How many more Puerto Rican lives are going to be sacrificed, fulfilling the tribute of blood by the colony?," he asked finally.

Venezuela and the Indigenous Congress

Venezuela Hosts Indigenous Congress, Gives Land Titles to Indigenous
By: Kiraz Janicke - Venezuelanalysis.com

Caracas, August 8, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Coinciding with the launch of the First International Congress of the Anti-imperialist Indigenous Peoples of Latin America (Abya Yala), yesterday, in San Tomé, Anzoátegui state, Venezuelan vice-president Jorge Rodriguez, together with Nicia Maldonado, the Minister of Popular Power for Indigenous Peoples, handed over eleven housing and land titles recognizing indigenous ownership of various indigenous groups throughout the country.

Minister Nicia Maldonado assured that along with the recognition of land titles, the government will provide financial support for projects of integral development and housing for the indigenous communities of Pumé, Yaruro, Kariña and Warao, the first peoples of the states of Apure, Anzoátegui, and Bolívar.

She also said that during the past eight years the Venezuelan government has handed over nine-hundred thousand hectares of land titles to the indigenous peoples of various regions of Venezuela.

The minister said that 2,205 indigenous communities representing more than forty different groups had been identified at a national level, including 26 communities in urban zones and that the delivery of resources for the development of projects would come through financing plans presented by the Indigenous Communal Councils throughout the country.

The minister confirmed that the National Registrar of Indigenous Communal Councils had reached 800 and of these, 520 had so far received financing from the national government for various development projects. She added that financial resources would be made available for the other 280 Communal Councils.

She explained that the Chavez government has encouraged a process of “dignification of the original peoples of the country,” through incorporating them into the education missions, Robinson, Ribas and Sucre, as well as programs of social production such as Mission Vuelvan Caras, now called Mission Ché Guevara, among others.
Maldonado also emphasized that the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela “rescued the dignity and rights of the original peoples,” through the Organic Law of the Indigenous Peoples.

Anti-Imperialist Indigenous Congress Opens

The First International Congress of the Anti-imperialist Indigenous Peoples of Latin America (Abya Yala), also opened yesterday in San Tomé. Minister Maldonado said the conference, while promoting cultural diversity, had an “integrationist and unifying character” with the aim of creating a front against the political hegemony of the US imperialism.

More than a thousand delegates of first peoples from 22 different countries participated, including Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, El Salvador, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Argentina, Guyana, Suriname, Paraguay, San Vicente and the Grenadines, Brazil, Honduras, United States, Uruguay, Panama, and Venezuela.

The Venezuelan delegation included representatives of forty different indigenous groups, first peoples form the states of Anzoátegui, Amazonas, Apure, Bolívar, Delta Amacuro, Monagas, Sucre, and Zulia, as well as members of Indigenous Communal Councils from diverse regions throughout the country.

The first day of the congress covered issues of empowerment of indigenous people, through the articulation of their demands at a national level and expressions of communal power such as the Communal Councils in Venezuela, as well as the importance of promoting and strengthening cultural diversity and preserving indigenous languages, and the Bolivarian Alternative for the peoples of the Americas (ALBA).

The indigenous peoples of the Americas will also share their experiences of US imperialism, privatization of land and resources and struggles against privatization and for the recognition of land rights. Also to be discussed at the conference is the concept of 'Indo-American socialism', the discourse of Socialism of the 21st Century, and more specifically the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, including the “five constituent motors” for pushing the revolution forward, and the role of indigenous peoples within the revolution.

The conference also provided space to discuss strategies and articulate anti-imperialist proposals to create a better world, including the proposal to form a Continental Anti-imperialist Indigenous Council and a proposal to create an Indo-American Indigenous Network of Alternative Communication.

“We are going to celebrate this congress with the aim of going towards the formation of a Continental Anti-imperialist Indigenous Council, constructing 'Indo-American' socialism and the Bolivarian Alternative of the peoples of the Americas,” declared Maria Caicuto, the vice-minister for the communal indigenous territory of the Deltas, Mountains, Coasts and Mangroves.

The closing of the conference coincides with the International Day of Indigenous Peoples on Aug 9.

Ecuador: Correa and the Indigenous Movement

The Indigenous movement and Correa in Ecuador

by Federico Fuentes; Green Left Weekly

When Rafael Correa was elected president of Ecuador in 2006, campaigning on a strong anti-neoliberal platform to bring about a "citizen's revolution", one key social force seemed notably absent from his campaign — the country's powerful indigenous movement.
For over a decade, Ecuador's indigenous people — who make up over 40% of the population — were central to national politics as the key protagonists in a new wave of struggle that toppled several presidents.

Luis Macas, indigenous candidate for Pachakutik and a leader of CONAIE, which unites the different indigenous organisations and nations, garnered less than 3% of votes in the first round of the presidential election — a far cry from the 20% obtained in Pachakutik's first electoral campaign in 1996. In the second round Pachakutik endorsed Correa, but played a marginal role in the victory for a candidate who has since begun to act on many of the movement's key demands, particular the convocation of a Constituent Assembly.



Colonial Comics

Mapuche Resistance: A Source of Inspiration

The Mapuche in Chile What Their Resistance Can Teach Us
by Raul Zibechi

"The Mapuche people, their history, their culture, their struggles, have been covered by a veil of silence. The little news that arrives from southern Chile is almost always related to acts of repression and accusations of "terrorism" made by the Chilean state. Weighed down by social and political isolation, faced with either a difficult rural lifestyle or precarious, low-paying jobs in the cities, the Mapuche continue resisting the multinational timber and hydroelectric companies, fighting to keep their traditions alive.

"The Chilean state considers me a criminal for defending my family and my land," points out Waikilaj Cadim Calfunao, 25 years old and a member of the community Juan Paillalef in Araucania, Chile’s 9th Region, in a short letter which he sent to us from the High Security Prison in Santiago, where the guards didn’t allow us to enter for bureaucratic reasons. With minimal differences, other Mapuche prisoners deliver the same message. Jose Huenchunao, one of the founders of the Arauco Malleco Coordinator (CAM), arrested last March 20th, was sentenced to ten years for having taken part in burning forestry machinery."

Indigenous Momentum

Meeting of Indigenous and Socialist Indigenous Warriors, Venezuela
"Caracas, Venezuela, July 19th (ABN). Native peoples of the country are working on the organization of leaders, called socialist indigenous warriors, with the purpose of constituting from the grass roots " a revolutionary conscience and spirit of real solidarity human beings."
The information was given by the Minister of People’s Power for Indigenous Peoples Nicia Maldonado during the First Meeting of Indigenous and Socialist Indigenous Warriors carried out this week in Caracas."